Big item this week is a recommendation from Planning Commission to city council to remove the Crescent Apartments from the Heritage Holding Bylaw. If council says yes to this at their meeting tonight (5:30 pm at city hall if you want to show up), that will clear the way for the Crescent Apartments to be torn down and a three-storey multi-purpose commercial building erected on its ashes.
The Crescent Apartments contain 12 rental units. You can see a screencap of the building that I pulled from Google Street View to the left.
So, yet more affordable housing getting torn down in the midst of a housing crisis. And as we’ve reported before, the owner of the building, Westland Ventures, is also the owner of 1755 Hamilton St which is also up for demolition.
I’ve only read the L-P coverage of the RPC meeting that this was considered at, but apparently, the owners are saying that the building is so rundown it’s unsafe to live in and too expensive to fix up. RPC found the argument compelling enough to agree that the building should be relieved of the limited heritage protection the Heritage Holding Bylaw affords, but they also said, gosh, in future, we really gotta do a better job of protecting our heritage properties and our rental housing stock. Or something like that.
Exactly how many of these housing issues is this council going to be coming late to, anyway? If I had a dollar for every story I’ve felt deserved the title, “Horses Gone, Council Closes Barn Door”, why, I’d have many more dollars.
One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten in this is that council’s Regina General Hospital Area Secondary Plan identifies the 14th Ave corridor out to Broad Street as an area they’d like to see redeveloped as a commercial strip where medical offices and various health-care-related uses could locate.
So it isn’t just that the building is too old to save so the housing units have to go. Council is encouraging landowners along that strip to consider housing in that area an undesirable use. How many other apartments in that area are being let slide into disrepair because the owners are just waiting to tear ’em down and put up x-ray clinics and doctors’ offices because that’s what council wants them to do?
It’s also worth considering that if council had gotten their new condominium conversion policy finished a few months sooner, this would have been a perfect candidate for conversion. It’s a gorgeous heritage-status-worthy building and under the new policy, heritage properties can be converted to condos no matter what the vacancy rate is. And, as was demonstrated repeatedly during the slew of conversions over the last couple years, selling off units as condos is an easy way for property owners to fund building maintenance they’ve been slacking on for decades.
(If only there were council-sanctioned ways that I could profit off being a slacker. I could be a millionaire!)
Personally, I’d rather see these 12 units of housing stay in the market, even as condominiums, rather than lose them entirely to a commercial development. Especially seeing as Broad Street seems to be ably taking up the role of medical corridor that council once imagined for 14th Ave.
But, hey, council doesn’t want any housing on 14th, not even condos, so it’s unlikely the landowner would’ve conceived of using the condo conversion bylaw anyway.
Be interesting to see if any of this gets addressed at council tonight. You should come out and see what happens.
Also on this week’s city hall schedule….
Monday, March 12
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): Beyond the Crescent Apartment’s status, council will also be holding second and third reading on alterations to the city’s Taxi Bylaw. It will consider extending the tax exemption on the Cornwall Parkade for one more year, the Local Improvement Program for 2012 and a proposal to put a restaurant in 1916 Dewdney.
Also up for consideration is a proposed apartment building for 2112 Osler Street. It’ll contain 12 units of rental. Which offsets the loss of 12 units in the Crescent Apartments, I suppose. But that also means that there is no net increase in housing with this construction so you can hardly call it a step forward.
Wednesday, March 14
REGINA PLANNING COMMISSION (4:00 pm): RPC will be looking at proposals for a group of townhouses on 4175 Green Apple Drive and a low-rise apartment building at 1932 Cameron Street. So I guess there is some potential forward movement on the housing front this week. To the tune of 104 condominium townhouses and eight apartments.
That means on this weeks housing scorecard we’re +8 towards alleviating the rental crisis and +104 towards condominium oversaturation.
Also on RPC’s agenda is an action plan update on the Core Sustainability Action Plan. I don’t have time to really go over what’s happening here. But seeing as how city staff tried to shuffle this neighbourhood plan under the rug not too long ago, this’ll need some scrutiny.
And that’s it for this week at city hall. For full reports and agendas you can check out the city’s website.